Week 50: Monday, 7 Dec – Sunday, 13 Dec
Another 10 winners to report on from Avondhu area locals based in the UK, with Castletownroche natives recording no less than 7 of those winners. Brian Harding took the honours last week with four winners, followed closely by Jonjo O’Neill with 3 winners. Kilworth native, Martin Lane added a further 2 winners, with Killeagh native Liam Keniry riding one winner. This takes our 2015 combined winning total onto the 467 mark.
HARDING’S STILL GOT THE NAC
Castletownroche native and jump jockey, Brian Harding, is riding out of his skin at the moment and added another four winners in Week 50, this, taking his seasonal tally on to the 26 winner mark.
His most notable winner came aboard the Keith Dalgleish trained, Got The Nac (4/1), who took the 6 runner 188Bet Novices’ Chase (C4), over 16.5f, at Newcastle on December 10th last. Returning from an extended 8-month break, this six-year-old gelded son of Beneficial, was having his first start for Dalgleish, after changing hands for £40,000 at Doncaster sales, in April this year. Having only his third chase start, after finishing second on his two previous runs over fences, Got The Nac was a market drifter.
Settled early in rear, it was clear from the outset that Harding was going to have his work cut out on this keen going sort. Pulling his way through runners, Got The Nac was already upsides early leaders, Duhallowcountry and Kiama Bay approaching the second fence. Bold over that fence, Got The Nac galloped on into the lead with Harding allowing him his own way in front, as the field passed the winning post first time round.
Looking very enthusiastic in front and settling better, Got The Nac winged fences as he came upon them and quickly had his closest market rivals on the stretch from a long way out. Continually judging his fences well, Harding seemed content not to disappoint his mount and turning into the top of the home stretch, he only had one horse, Special Catch, in vain pursuit. Foot perfect again over three out, Got The Nac was giving his rivals a lesson in jumping and sailing over the last two fences, this Richard and Katherine Gilbert owned gelding, sauntered up the long run-in, to win eased down by six lengths.
Recording his second win, having previously won over hurdles, Got The Nac is rated 123 over fences and after demolishing a 129 rated horse in Special Catch by six lengths, I would expect no mercy from the handicapper, with at least a 10lb rise. Seemingly ground dependent with heavy or soft in all his best form, Got The Nac looks a nice sort going forward and should be competitive at a higher level.
Harding went on to record another three winners and followed up his win aboard Got The Nac, with a Newcastle double, aboard the Nicky Richards trained Betameche (13/8f), who took the 8 runner 188Bet National Hunt Flat Race (C6), over 16.5f, on racecourse debut. Harding’s third winner came earlier in the week aboard another Nicky Richards trained inmate, this time in the shape of Baywing (7/4f), who defied a 15lb penalty for his recent Carlisle win, by taking the 8 runner Douglas Family H’cap Hurdle (C4), over 20f, at Uttoxeter on December 8th.
Harding’s fourth winner came aboard a third Nicky Richards trained horse, in Western Rules (4/9f), who took the 5 runner 188Bet Novices’ Hurdle (C4), over 19.5f, at Carlisle on Dec 13th last. Recording his first hurdles win, on only his fifth start, this five-year-old gelded son of Westerner, is also a dual bumper winner and looks a nice prospect going forward. He made up for been beaten at 1/4f last time out, at Kelso.
Harding was unlucky not to make it five wins, after a fall early on the card at Doncaster, last Saturday, caused him to be stood down. One of his intended mounts, Southfield Royale, went on to win a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase later in the day. Harding was back riding and in the winners circle the following day at Carlisle.
O’NEILL HAS ONE EYE ON GOLD CUP WITH MORE OF THAT
Castletownroche native and trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, registered another three winners last week, this, taking his seasonal total on to the 60 winner mark. His most significant winner came with the Barry Geraghty ridden, More Of That (1/3f), who scored in the 3 runner Raymond Mould Novices’ Chase (C2), over 21f, at Cheltenham on December 12th last. Making his second chase start and bidding to keep his 100% Cheltenham course record intact, this seven-year-old gelded son of Beneficial, looked to enhance his growing reputation as a possible future Gold Cup contender.
With just three runners, this contest could have got messy tactically, but Geraghty decided to push on with Sametegal for company over the first three fences. Leading outright over the fourth fence, More Of That jumped economically and looked smart at his fences even if on the wrong stride. Joined again by the persistent Sametegal at the 8th fence, More Of That wasn’t going to have it all his own way as this race unfolded and it was clear this would be more than just a stroll around Prestbury Park for the former World Hurdle winner.
With just three to jump, this race was turned on its head with Sametegal making a serious mistake and Padge slipping on landing and unseating Noel Fehily. Taking swift advantage, More Of That asserted from then on and despite measuring the final two fences well, he had to be kept up to his work before finally making his undoubted class tell halfway up the run-in. Ridden out, this JP McManus owned gelding stayed on strongly to win by some 13 lengths from the only other finisher, Sametegal, back in second.
Recording his 7th win from 8 starts and now 4/4 at Cheltenham, More Of That has been talked up as a possible Gold Cup horse this season. With last year’s Gold Cup winner, Coneygree, the first novice to win jump racing’s most coveted crown since Captain Christy, back in 1974, you can see why connections are thinking this way.
While we didn’t learn anything new from this performance, the experience itself will not be lost on More Of That. He has other options like the RSA Chase and coming back in trip for the JLT Chase. Meanwhile, we may not see him again until the festival in March, which would be a real shame.
Jonjo O’Neill, winning trainer, said, “More Of That could go either way two and a half miles or three miles, and I’m not being smart. He’s got plenty of pace and although his full-brother was only a two-mile horse, he got a trip well too. He could even go for the Gold Cup. Why not? I’ll have to talk to the boys but I wouldn’t be afraid to put him in it. He’s one of those horses who keeps plenty for himself.”
O’Neill went on to record another two winners and they were, in date order, Utility (1/1f), who took the 7 runner Pirelli Blue Shift National Hunt Flat Race (C6), over 15.5f, at Uttoxeter on December 8th, under Richard Johnson, on racecourse debut and finally, O’Neill’s third winner came again with Johnson aboard the JP McManus owned, Suit Yourself (10/3), who won the 9 runner, 188Bet Novices’ Hurdle (C4), over 17f, at Carlisle on December 13th last.
LANE SURE CAN TANGO WITH SOUTHWELL DOUBLE
Kilworth native and flat jockey, Martin Lane, brought up a Southwell double on Saturday, December 12th, this bringing his 2015 total on to the 53 winner mark.
His most notable win came aboard the Derek Shaw trained, Shawkantango (9/4f), who took the 13 runner Unibet H’cap (C6), over 5f. Back into low Class 6 company (0-52), off top-weight, this eight-year-old gelded son of Piccolo, had the services of Lane back on board this horse, after a nearly five-year absence.
Slow to stride and awkward leaving the gate, Shawkantango was soon well outpaced in rear, as Lane pushed and shoved his mount for all he was worth as the early pace was set out by Argent Touch. As is his style of running, Shawkantango slowly reeled in the leaders passing the halfway point and was now sighted picking off horses one by one, as Touch The Clouds took his turn at the head of affairs.
Soon on terms, as yet another leader, George Bailey, hit the front over one furlong out, Shawkantango was soon eating up the sand and hitting the front well inside the final furlong, this Shawthing Racing Partnership owned gelding, ran on stoutly to the line to reward his supporters. Recording his 12th win from 80 starts, Shawkantango has now notched up 8 wins from 22 starts over this course and distance. Winning his first handicap in two years, he has seen his handicap mark slip from 74 down to 52 and surely he wasn’t winning out of turn.
Described by his trainer-breeder, Shaw, as a one-trick pony, Shawkantango does all his winning between December and April, having never tasted success in the summer or autumn. Derek Shaw, winning trainer, said, “There’s been hardly any suitable races here for him since the summer. He’s a one-trick pony and this was his Derby. How long more I go on with him, considering you’re always relying on just one course, remains to be seen.”
Lane went on to bring up a 67/1 double in the very next race, aboard the John Davies trained, Major Rowan (20/1), who won the 8 runner 32Red H’cap (C6), over 14f. Recording his second course win, the last of which came over 8f, this David Cox owned and bred four-year-old gelded son of Captain Gerrard, was returning to the track after a four-month break.
Also having his first start for Davies, after moving to his Durham base only two months ago, he looked to settle better than in his most recent races and could make up into a jumper in time. Rated only 47 here, he has plenty of headroom on the handicapping scale.
HEARMENOW PURRS UNDER KENIRY
Killeagh native and flat jockey, Liam Keniry, recorded his 58th winner of 2015, aboard the Stan Moore trained, Hearmenow (3/1), who went onto take the 9 runner Unibet Racing Selling Stakes (C6), over 6f, at Lingfield Park on December 7th last. Back into Selling company, after a close-up second last time out, this two-year-old gelded son of Kodiac was dropped back to 6f, with cheekpieces reapplied.
Well away, with a blind used on stalls entry, Hearmenow was soon settled into second place, off a solid looking gallop, set by Mustn’t Grumble, who looked to have this field well stretched out passing the halfway point. Switched around the leader to challenge well over three-furlongs out, Hearmenow was soon upsides Mustn’t Grumble, who looked there for the taking. Joining and passing the leader right on the two-furlong marker, Hearmenow had race favourite, Burmese Whisper, hot on his heels, as he entered the top of the home straight.
Snatching a two length lead over Burmese Whisper off the home turn, Keniry was soon hard at work and ridden out strongly, his mount was always doing enough to hold off the late attentions of his nearest pursuer. Going on to win by some three-quarters of a length, this M Fitzpatrick and Stan Moore owned gelding, broke his maiden tag here, on this, only his sixth start. With all his races coming over the last 9 weeks or so, Hearmenow looks tough and can only improve with racing. Rated 62, he was bought back in for 4,000gns, after again confirming his superiority over Burmese Whisper, who finished behind him in fourth, at Wolverhampton, last time out.
UK Flat/Jumps 2015 = 463, Ireland = 1, France = 2, Canada = 1.